After taking the “leap” in his third year, from perennial all-star to MVP and possible all-time great, the Bulls still finished the season on a sour note, losing four straight games to the Miami Heat and getting bounced out of the Eastern Conference Finals. After an off-season of depression, reflection and watching hours and hours of mind-numbing game tapes, Derrick Rose wanted to come back smarter and stronger than ever. Bulls fans couldn’t help but salivate at the thought.
Derrick Rose started the season strong, coming out of the gate in the Staples Center and leaving with a game-winner, much to the chagrin of Lakers fans. He outdid himself once again at the Staples Center, taking on Chris Paul and the Clippers in his best game as
a professional. He finished the game with 29 points and 16 assists, taking just 14 shots. However, after a tough loss on the road against the Hawks, fans started to questions whether or not the new and improved Derrick Rose was being aggressive enough. After taking on a more aggressive role though, Rose found himself out with a toe injury just two games later. After sitting out five of the next seven games, he came back strong putting up a string of 30 point games. However, the injury bug lingered on as problems with his back forced him to miss another five games. He returned just two games before the all-star break. The Bulls were a strong 7-3 without their MVP but an even better 20-5 with him in the line-up.
Derrick Rose came out of the all-star break strong, helping the Bulls continue on what would be a 10-1 stretch including an eight game winning streak. Injury struck again however, after Rose hurt his groin going up against Jeremy Lin and the revitalized New York Knicks for the first time. After that, appearances from Rose were few and far between. He played only five games after aggravating his groin, and was clearly recovering from the rust. In the first game of the playoffs, the only one Rose would play, he had a shaky start but was finally making moves and shots he would when he was healthy. Until the 1:10 mark of the fourth quarter, that is. A torn ACL ended the season for Derrick Rose and Chicago Bulls. The rest of the playoff games were when the importance of Rose to this team was truly realized. The eighth-seeded 76ers easily beat the Bulls in six games.
Here’s what takes the cake for me. The Bulls were 18 – 9 without Rose, which is great for any team without their superstar. However, they were an elite 32 – 7 with him. The Bulls lost a total of two games at home with Derrick Rose on the court. Even when the Bulls played well without him, it took a lot more energy and it exhausted them. Rose made everyone’s job easier, and it was especially evident in the way Ronnie Brewer played when Rose was alongside him, compared to when he wasn’t. In a season riddled with injuries, Derrick Rose saw the worst of it. From a minor toe issue, to back spasms and then finally one of the worst sports injuries, a torn ACL. Even though he missed 40% of the season, Rose was the heart of this year’s Chicago Bulls.
Final Grade: A-